Those nineteen-year-old eyes
Should not be so cold and guarded
Staring straight ahead as though they see nothing in this room.
Everything has been shrouded by experience
Experiences that have silenced your voice and weakened your spirit.
Your book is open on your desk, but your life must already seem closed
With concerns of where you’re going to sleep tonight--
Where you and your unborn child are going to sleep tonight.
How can you think past today,
Past how to get to work with no bus fare?
And I expect you to care that “angry” is an adjective and “angrily” an adverb?
You know both words well.
You’ve felt the fist of your mom on your face, run from the smell of alcohol on your father,
Fled to the fragile embrace of your grandmother’s arms
Too fragile to stay on this earth any longer.
Now you’re alone
Angry, anxious, terrified—
But you’re here
Sitting in my English class
And I call on you by name.
“’Angrily’ is an adverb,” you say.
And when I smile and acknowledge that you’re right,
Your eyes change for a second or two
Light reflects back from them with your smile
And it does matter.
For at that moment
You are doing well, getting the answer right, knowing something is true.
You are strong and powerful (more so than you realize).
And for that moment, you look happy.
As long as you’re sitting on the back row
--listening, thinking, trying--
There is hope.
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